BERLIN – The German Bundestag rejected a bill on Thursday that would make vaccination against corona viruses compulsory from April 60.
Of the 683 voters, 378 rejected the bill and only 296 supported it, including Scholz and Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, who appeared visibly disappointed when the result was announced in plenary.
The result was a major setback for the governing coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP, which was unable to reach agreement even within its own ranks after months of debate.
Lauterbach, who – like Scholz – is a social democrat, has until recently been campaigning for a strict vaccination mandate for everyone over the age of 18, but failed to garner enough support to put forward such a motion, he eventually relented and backed the next best strict idea, which was also the only actual bill offered in Parliament on Thursday.
“If nobody had been vaccinated, we would now have a flawless disaster and would be in a complete lockdown – you have to understand that,” emphasized Lauterbach during the event debate before the voteand repeats his question of whether Germans really want to get used to several hundred COVID deaths a day.
Scholz and Lauterbach backed the proposal to make vaccinations mandatory for those over 60 after it became clear that there would not be a majority in the free vote to make vaccinations mandatory for all adults. Even then, the bill, which would have required adults under the age of 60 to at least consult their doctor if they were bitten, failed.
Though a far cry from his original idea, Lauterbach also supported the compromise because of long-standing concerns more than two million unvaccinated Germans over the age of 60, who are at higher risk of developing severe cases of COVID-19 and could collapse the healthcare system if a new wave of infections hits in the fall.
Due to his repeated warnings of such scenarios, the health minister was repeatedly accused of scaremongering, especially by FDP colleagues and opposition politicians.
Meanwhile, a less ambitious proposal by the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian allies, with whom they form the largest opposition bloc in parliament, was even more firmly defeated by the CSU, by just 172 votes in favor out of a total of 678.
point of contention
Thursday’s vote was another unfortunate milestone for Scholz and his governing coalition formed last November, as so far they have drawn almost nothing but criticism on the issue, whether over apparent power struggles or the chancellor’s refusal to take the helm on a vaccination mandate take over.
It was Scholz who first said the issue should be decided by MPs, leaving it to his health secretary to convince enough lawmakers of the importance of a vaccination mandate.
Lauterbach, a popular but polarizing figure, unintentionally widened his panel of critics earlier this week when he announced on a late-night talk show that he was abandoning a plan to lift forced isolation for people with COVID. The reversal came two days after he announced an end to isolation from May 1.
“Federal Confusion Minister”, a German newspaper called him on Thursday morning.
Knowing full well that the vote would be tight, Scholz called Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock returns to Berlin to try to tip the scales, forcing her to leave a summit of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels early.
But the move was in vain – Thursday’s parliamentary debate only showed how little there is in common among MPs when it comes to the vaccination mandate.
In a seemingly stereotypical German procedure, lawmakers were required to vote ahead of the vote on the order in which they wanted to vote on various parliamentary groups’ various proposals, including a total rejection of compulsory vaccination by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).
Even the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, Aydan Özoğuz, got angry throughout the voting. “It would be quite appropriate if you didn’t eat or go elsewhere between votes,” she chided.
“And would you please hurry!”
This article is part of POLITICO Pro
The one-stop-shop solution for political professionals that combines the depth of POLITICO journalism with the power of technology
Exclusive groundbreaking news and insights
Custom policy intelligence platform
A high-level public affairs network
https://www.politico.eu/article/german-parliament-rejects-mandatory-coronavirus-vaccination/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication Bundestag rejects compulsory vaccination against the corona virus – POLITICO